Category Archives: Toshifumi Hinata

Anyone who had a heart

Last week, we told you about Alessandro Alessandroni, Morricone collaborator and whistler, soundtrack and library music composer extraordinaire, central figure in Italy’s 1960s and 1970s scene. Today we bring you Prisma Sonoro, apparently his personal favourite, an album which we haven’t managed to stop listening since we stumbled upon it a few weeks ago.

Prisma Sonoro could be the McGuffin in a remake of the Maltese Falcon set in the music nerd scene.It was a library music micro-press for the Sermi label. In it, Alessandroni was given access to a full orchestra and he went to town with it:

“The editor gave me total freedom, so I composed for a great orchestra with 16 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, it was truly fun. It isn’t often that a producer leaves you free to compose whatever you want.”

Words fail us as we attempt to describe this record. One could call it lounge, and imagine it playing in the backdrop of a jet-set party in a futuristic penthouse, though cigarette smoke and controversies about existentialism. But it is so much more. Like Burt Bacharach’s work (specially with Dionne Warwick) it is infected with transcendental innocence and melancholy, a psychedelia acquired not through filigree but through depth. Fly Basil Kirchin’s genius to the Italian riviera in a Learjet 23.  

We listen to it and feel the same sweetness we do when we look at photos of our parents when they were young and cool. Perhaps we miss the (nuclear eschaton-tinged) optimism of its times, perhaps we feel a vicarious nostalgia for its dreams and hopes, things that never came to be.

Perhaps we miss a world that gave up on itself so that we could be.

Alessandro Alessandroni – Personale

Prisma Sonoro was reissued by Light in the Attic some time ago but the older pressings go for $1500 in discogs, and this isn’t a market failure.

Although we know a few things about Toshifumi Hinata, a Japanese pianist / balearic composer we also featured recently, the Internet is silent regarding the history and meaning of Chat D’Ete, an album he released in 1986.

We have decided to post it today because, like Prisma Sonoro, it opens a wormhole into a universe that doesn’t exist anymore, a universe that perhaps didn’t ever exist, a universe that maybe can’t exist because basic physical constants don’t allow such perfect folding of coolness upon emotion.

To be honest, you could say that about most Hinata albums, seamless pot pourris of franco-phile piano, exquisite minimalism, pastel ambient and tracks like 異国の女たち (‘exotic women’), a stately synth ballad whose melody might have soundtracked Rutger Hauer’s terminal speech at the end of a version of Bladerunner scripted by Haruki Murakami and shot by Michael Mann in that impossible universe of blinding neon we alluded to above.

Toshifumi Hinata – 異国の女たち

More info about Chat D’Ete in discogs.


Featuring : Toshifumi Hinata

Let us tell you something about our latest obsession, Toshifumi Hinata:

Toshifumi Hinata is an accomplished piano player who studied classical piano and composition in several US universities. He is a prolific composer of soundtracks for TV series and dramas, and he has been referred to as ‘The Henry Mancini of Japanese Drama music”. According to Google’s knowledge graph thing, he operates in the ‘new age’ genre, and we did in fact first stumble on him in one of our frequent algorithmic explorations of the Japanese ambient/minimal composition labyrinth in YouTube.

He also has some pretty neat glasses.

As it often happens with the Japanese artists we are interested in, there is little information about him in English (here is his website, in Japanese), which only enhances his mystery and makes his music our primary source of information about him. This leads us to assert that Toshifumi Hinata is one of the coolest dudes ever. We hope you will agree after listening to three songs from albums released between 1985 and 1987.

Let us go through them in chronological order.

Is Sarah’s Crime a soundtrack? The record’s title suggests as much. We imagine it providing the backdrop for the romantic comedy scenes of a Japanese version of Profondo Rosso, or Agent Graham’s moody reveries in a storm of Manhunter blues (cf. above).

Although you will not find any slasher horror moments here, a hint of weirdness and perhaps even danger lingers. Chaconne’s music box melody is as close as we’ll get to finding out what Sarah did, and seeing her face. But the truth fades into silence, like memories of a dream.

Toshifumi Hinata – Chaconne

Here is Sarah’s Crime discogs file.

Reality in Love is all francophone elegance and pastel panache. The dance of strings and piano convey the complex, intricately urbane and harmonious rituals of modernity. In that sense, it works like lounge music during the optimistic 1960s, or a collection of Bacharachian gems.

However, in its art deco progressions we also feel  nostalgia, perhaps for the fantastical make-believes of religion and myth which fall by the wayside as rational individualism holds sway. Perhaps that’s what connects it, in our minds, with Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli soundtracks, which tell with many voices a single story: the loss of magic that comes with maturity.

We could certainty imagine the dissatisfied protagonist in Iain M Banks’ Player of Games listening to it, as the glaciers slide by.

Toshifumi Hinata – 光と水

Here is Reality in Love’s discogs file. Also check its lovely review in Listen to This.

We conclude our tour of Hinata land in a netherworld or limbo for people whose capital sin has been to be too chill, like a version of Black Mirror’s San Junipero set in a never-ending Ibizan summer.

Broken Belief is the perfect example of how this plays out: a chorus of synthetic angels march up the right side of the uncanny valley, beyond which awaits a blissful Balearic arcadia whose sunset dulls all edges and blurs all pains. It is a known fact that David Mancuso consulted on the Singularity, and this is where we’ll all come together and hold hands, after the machines of loving grace have taken over.

Toshifumi Hinata – Broken Belief

Here is Story’s discogs file.